Smiles abound at Special Olympics in Craig |

Smiles abound at Special Olympics in Craig

Nate Waggenspack
Jason Latham, center, and Ricky Rapalee celebrate their top-two finishes in the men's 400-meter walk Saturday at the Special Olympics Western Area Summer Games in Craig. A few hundred athletes and volunteers were at Moffat County High School for the annual event, which showcases track and field, swimming and powerlifting.
Nate Waggenspack

— As Bobby Holmberg rounded the final turn at the Moffat County High School track Saturday, the crowd in attendance rose to its feet to cheer him on.

Holmberg wasn’t setting any world records, but with one hand on the wheel of his wheelchair and his feet churning below to pull him along, his effort and accomplishment were no less impressive.

It was one of countless memorable moments at MCHS, where the Special Olympics Colorado Western Area Summer Games took place Saturday morning, with track and field, swimming and powerlifting.

Holmberg won gold medals in two races and placed in the softball throw, as well, capping another successful Olympics for him, a day he enjoys each year.

“I went pretty fast today,” he said. “I always have fun at this.”

The Craig Kiwanis Club was the driving force behind this year’s games in organization and volunteers, while the American Legion showed up in uniform to administer ribbons and medals again. The weather was chilly but storms stayed away from Craig all morning, making it a good day for the track athletes even if they were a bit more bundled than normal.

Competitors were all smiles as they crossed the finish line because of the infectious fun of getting to compete.

Isabelle Herod picked up several gold medals in her first Special Olympics, but that’s not what she took away from the day.

“This was my first year doing it, and I really liked it,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun games; it’s not about winning. You just get to have fun.”

Herod had back surgery a year ago, and this was her first chance to participate since then, she said. Her brother Spencer also was there and said it felt great to show off the running he’d been working on.

“I’ve been wanting to get fast for a long time,” he said. “I would race as many people as I could, and now I got to do it today for fun.”

The Herods said they won’t miss the summer games next year after their experience this time around.

After the games finished, athletes and volunteers were treated to lunch and then an awards ceremony at which all the athletes were recognized for their accomplishments.

Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or Follow him on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.

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